Jun 16, 2014, 10:31 AM
As sitting of the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Evasion and other corrupt practices continued at the High Court premises in Banjul four more lawyers on Wednesday came before it.
Elizabeth Ann Livingston
First to appear was Lawyer Elizabeth Ann Livingston, who told the Commission that she was called to the Gambia bar in 1993 and worked at Bola Mahoney Chambers until 1998 before joining the Fajara Chambers, where she works up to date.
“I have been paying my taxes from 1999 to 2011,” she told the commission before producing copies of her personal income tax, sales tax and PAYE tax receipts from 2006 to date, which were admitted and marked by the commission chairperson.
Lawyer Penda Dibba told the commission that she is a private legal practitioner, and was called to the bar in 1993.
“I started worked with Lawyer Ousman Sillah at Oussu Chambers from 1993 to the last quarter of 1996 and, in 1997 I also worked at Gamtel as the head of Corporate Services till 2005,” he informed the commission.
She further informed the commission that she joined the Fajara Chambers in 2006, where she started her private practice, adding that she now runs her own chambers called South Atlantic Chambers since 1st January 2011.
“I have been paying my taxes,” she said, before producing copies of her personal income tax and sales tax receipts.
At that juncture the state representative at commission said the lawyer accumulated her arrears before asking her to explain the reasons for accumulating tax arrears for the period 2006 to 2009.
In response, Lawyer Dibba said: “I was assessed by the Income Tax, which I paid with interest and the penalties.”
Asked why she could not assess herself and pay when due, as the law requires, Mrs Dibba admitted that she was required by law to conduct self-assessment, but said she has finally paid her arrears.
Copies of her personal income tax receipts from 2006 to 2011 were subsequently marked and admitted by the commission.
She told the commission that when she joined Fajara Chambers, the payee tax was paid jointly by those with whom she shared the same chambers, adding that when she set up her own chambers, South Atlantic Chambers, she has two staff, and has been paying the pay as you earn tax from January to November 2011.
The receipts of the PAYE were admitted by the commission.
Momodou Kebba Krubally
Lawyer Momodou Kebba Krubally said he was called to the bar in 1995, and served as a state counsel up to the year 2000.
He told the three member commission that he was fully aware of his obligation as a legal practitioner to pay tax, and that he had settled his personal income tax, and showed the commission copies of his personal income tax receipts.
After going through the receipts it was discovered that he owed arrears from the period 2008 to 2010, which he later regularized.
“In my formative years as a private legal practitioner, I was finding things difficult and, as a result, I defaulted in payment of taxes.”
Lawyer Krubally admitted paying his tax arrears, and that he had assessed himself and was assessed by the Income Tax office.
He added that he paid about D90, 000 for the period 2008 to 2010, which the chairperson of the commission, Justice Mama Fatima Singhateh, confirmed and that Lawyer Krubally paid D90, 000 out of D187, 490 he owed.
He told the commission he would make arrangement with his bank to regularize his tax payments.
He said he paid part-paid his sales tax some years, but had settled his tax liabilities for the period 2008 to 2011.
The lawyer informed the commission that he was out of the jurisdiction from October 2011 to November 2011.
“In 2007, I had one secretary and one person who was on attachment, and a messenger,” he said, before producing photocopies of certificates of PAYE tax from January 2007 to August 2011, which were jointly marked.
Fafa Edrissa Mbai
Lawyer Fafa Edrissa Mbai told the commission that he was called to the bar in 1975, and in 1976 was appointed a magistrate, and a few months later moved to the AG Chambers as state counsel.
“I was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in 1980 until I resigned on the 24th June 1984. I took a break until March 1986 and reestablished myself from March 1986 to 1994, but I was appointed as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice from 1994 to 1995,” he told the commission.
The lawyer said he took another break and re-established himself in 1996 and began active practice until January 2011, adding that he was winding up now because he is aging.
“In January 1999, I had a staff of three: a secretary, cleaner and a watchman. It was only the secretary that could have been taxable, and I was supposed to collect the taxes,” he added.
The secretary, lawyer Mbai continued, worked up to October 2007, when she died.
Lawyer Mbai said that only her secretary was subject to taxation and the other two do not fall in the tax bracket.
He further told the commission that he has been paying his personal income tax from 1996 to September 2011.
“I paid as assessed by the Income Tax office at the beginning, and self-assessment came not too long ago. I paid according to the assessment,” he told the commission.
“It took the Income Tax office four years to assess me and after the assessment, I paid my taxes and it was even discovered that I paid a surplus of D47,000”, he continued.
Two copies of assessment and receipts of payment for personal income tax and sales tax from August 1998 to November 2011 were jointly marked and admitted by the commission.
After going through the lawyer’s documents, state counsel Binga D noticed some arrears of sales tax payments which were paid, but not when due.
Lawyer Mbai explained that at first sales tax was paid yearly, later quarterly, but presently it is paid monthly.
Copies of the his assessment paper, as well as sales tax receipts were admitted by the commission.
Recommendations to the commission by lawyer Mbai included the need for public education on the need to pay tax, and that the different taxes should be consolidated for professionals.
Ransford Owusu, executive director VOSCON consulting firm, told the commission that they started operations in August 2007, but had now changed their name to Voscom and the registrar general had been informed.
The commission noticed after scrutinizing documents of VOSCON that the firm failed to meet its sales tax obligations.
The commission also noted that the firm had not been paying sales tax when due. Some documents produced by the firm was admitted and marked.
Sittings of the commission resume today.